We appear. We disappear. We reappear somewhere else. As any physicist knows, energy never dies. The essential question is: What kind of investment do we make with the life we are given between the day we are born, and the day our "marching papers" come? Are we good stewards of life force flowing through our veins? Could we do better?
There's a well-known American ritual celebrated this time of year, with international interest. Acknowledging artists here and abroad, the Academy Awards recognizes the magnificence of the creative process, alive and well, through artistic storytelling productions captured through film. Following stiff competition, tension builds as finalists await the end of the sentence: "And, the winner is..." The breath-holding is palpable. Will they be chosen? Will they join the ranks of those who have earned Olympic gold known to us as the Oscars?
Now, it should be said that the finalists have already achieved extraordinary success by the fact they are in the final round of consideration. It is a success which carries an import beyond the red carpet razz-a-ma-taz, designer gowns, or post-function galas. Yes, there are speeches, and credits given their due.
But, something more important is rarely uttered. How many of the undiscovered toil away privately, without fame or recognition because they are called to do so by something that defies logic? In "my book," these individuals are every bit as heroic as public winners, for they persist despite the odds, despite self-doubt, despite an apparent lack of resources. They create because it is within them to do so. They create because they are an extension of Creation, and creativity is our nature. These are the artists of life.
Recently, I met an amazing young man from Edmonton by the name of Martin Kerr. If you haven't heard of him, I assure you that you will. A superstar in Canada's version of American Idol, Kerr has that inspiring knack of awakening us to the experience of being human through voice. It was impossible to hear him without thinking of you. So, I asked him whether I might link you to a song that is for you and me, for your children's children and mine. It's a song about the process of doing what must be done to leave record of your experience of being alive on Planet Earth, even when no one may have noticed your gift (yet).
Give a listen to a rough copy, than tell me what it means to you:
For those out there who've been brave enough to take on your own creative process despite the odds of "making money" through your craft, you know how powerful are Kerr's words. Imagine yourself having the resilience to trust your process, despite non-support. Imagine hearing someone say to you: "I know you're out there. I know you're in there..."
If only. The raw truth is that I cannot begin to count the number of times I've had people say to me: "If only I could make a living by doing what really turns me on. If only I could find/follow a bigger purpose for my life. If only I knew a way of not settling, of not whoring myself to what I think I must do to survive."
I understand. We do not live in a world where we are encouraged by the collective to break out of our box. It upsets the corporate, governmental, and religious institutional apple cart. There's just no controlling the bird who gets out of his cage.
And yet, I'm with Richard Bach. When I heard him speak at the Paramount Theater in Seattle, what he said stayed with me over three decades ago. Said Bach: "If you are still here, your mission is not yet completed."
The beautiful bold truth of the artist awakens us to this fact. In devoting themselves to their gift, despite the sacrifices freely made, we are reminded that we, too, have a similar responsibility, and our own spirit's flight pattern. Lao Tzu put it this way:
"If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering of the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give us, is that of your own self-transformation."
A Practical Spiritual Practice to Awaken, in Eight Doable Steps:
1. Move in the direction that warms your heart. This is life moving through you to restore, renew, regenerate your creative spirit wishing for expression.
2. Stay clear of what contaminates. Those filled with self-loathing do you no service.
3. Step away from negativity. It serves no one.
4. Move in the direction that encourages your voice and contribution.
5. Deal only with those who appreciate fair and mutual exchange.
6. Release distractions.
7. Practice noticing how you self-interrupt.
8. Practice being your own best advocate.
Love Letter for the Undiscovered Artist:
Yes, it is true. No one has laid out a red carpet for you, yet. Maybe this will never happen. Maybe you will never make it to the inner circle of those who are handed the outer gold.
What I want you to know is that you are my hero, my heroine. You roll up your sleeves. You know discouragement. You are no stranger to self-doubt. And, yet, you return again and again to what is in your heart! Here is the true gold that lasts. Do you know how rare this is? I do. So, here I am, doing a one person "wave," right here, where I stand today, on the shoulders of my ancestors who were brave like you. Their canvas was life, their paint, courage, their vision, freedom, their song, silent persistence in moving forward, as best they could, to make this a better place for me, for my children's children before we were born.
I salute you. I know you are out there. I know you are doing what you are doing in the nooks and crannies of your life, because it is in you to do so. How I'd love to witness your story, hear your "song," experience your imagery! In lieu of that, please know that there is someone out here, who's face you cannot see, that says 'atta, boy, 'atta girl! Keep on keeping on, never ever give up. What is coming through you is needed by our world. You are an instrument, a splendid recording device of the heart. Your creation need not be perfect, just real. I say "bravo."
Your turn: What would you like to say to those whose gift has not yet been recognized, yet they press on? I'm listening!
If you would like a copy of "The Love Project: Coming Home" feel free to contact me below.
For more by Dr. Cara Barker, click here.
For more on mindfulness, click here.